Local artists collaborate to create ceremonial gavel for Farmington mayor

Object was inspired by hammer of Norse god Thor

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
A ceremonial gavel created for Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett and inspired by Thor's hammer rests in its case.
  • Don Joslin, Michael Bulloch, Steven Bulloch and Valerie Jordan worked together on the gavel.
  • The gavel was commissioned last year and delivered earlier this month.
  • It features simulated antique coins on the side with the Farmington seal and a Celtic knot.

FARMINGTON — Local artist Don Joslin is a veteran woodcarver and landscape photographer, and his habit of working largely on commission has afforded him the opportunity to create a wide variety of projects over the course of his career.

But when he was asked last year to help create a ceremonial gavel for Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett, Joslin acknowledged he was moving into uncharted territory.

"I'm always excited to talk to somebody about commissions, and it seemed fun and it was actually really fun," Joslin said of the project.

After consulting with Duckett about what he wanted, Joslin set about creating a gavel that was inspired by Thor's hammer, the instrument wielded by the mythical Norse god whose name is synonymous with thunder and lightning. Joslin had no qualms about using Thor's hammer as the basis of the project, but he had no desire to simply create a modern replica of it.

"For me, it was kind of a challenge," he said. "I suppose anybody could replace a Thor's hammer. I was not interested in a replica but in using that as inspiration."

A Celtic knot design is featured on one of the simulated antique coins affixed to the side of the gavel.

It took Duckett and Joslin some time to get on the same page, as the artist said they exchanged a lot of sketches before they finally arrived at an idea with which they were both satisfied.

The finished product finally was delivered to the mayor this month, complete with a handsome wooden case. In the end, Joslin wound up collaborating on the gavel with two other artists and a local merchant.

Joslin said he was pleased with the final product.

"Everyone who has seen it that I've shown it to thought it was really cool looking," he said. "But Nate's the one who really matters. It's his opinion that counts."

Antique-style washers fabricated by artist Steven Bulloch attach the head of the gavel to the dowel.

Duckett seemed pleased with the gavel in a statement he issued to The Daily Times.

"I appreciate the work of Don Joslin and all of the local artists who contributed to the project," he stated. "The collaboration turned out a memento of my time as mayor that I will treasure forever!"

Joslin was recruited for the project by his cousin, watercolor painter Michael Bulloch, who created the designs and digital files for the simulated antique coins that are inlaid in the sides of the head of the hammer. Another one of his cousins, Steven Bulloch, hand fabricated the metal washers that attach the head to the handle and applied an antique finish to them.

Inlaid leather accents designed to provide the user with a good grip are featured on the handle of the gavel.

The "antique" coins were fabricated by Valerie Jordan of Allstar T-shirts & Trophies of Farmington, making the gavel a true team effort.

Joslin said Duckett wanted the design of the coins to reflect the Farmington community and Celtic imagery. They settled on using the City of Farmington seal and a Celtic knot that symbolizes love.

The head of the hammer is carved from basswood, which Joslin described as a very popular wood with those who work in his medium. He said it is firm enough to keep it from splintering easily, but it's soft enough so that it is relatively easy to work with.

The handle features a basswood dowel, along with inlaid leather accents that provide the user with a good grip.

But don't expect to see Duckett rapping the gavel loudly at City Council meetings. Joslin emphasized the gavel is first and foremost a ceremonial object, and it isn't designed to be pounded.

The seal of the city of Farmington is embossed in a simulated antique coin affixed to the head of the gavel.

"It's intended more as a piece of art," he said.

Nevertheless, if Duckett has to use it get the attention of other public officials at unruly meetings, Joslin is confident it won't fly apart.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to hold together," he said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.